These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. … Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. – Exodus 1:1-6, excerpted (NRSV)
The generation of Joseph—all the children born to Jacob—migrated from Canaan to Egypt to save their lives from the ravages of famine.
The generation of Moses—all the children born under the protection of Shiphrah and Puah—migrated from Egypt to Canaan to save their lives from the ravages of slavery.
The generations between Joseph and Moses, however—all those children born into the ruthless world of Pharaoh without God’s reprieve—they were the sandwich generation of ancient Israel in Egypt.
They were the ones trapped in limbo between the starry dreams of Joseph and the fiery visions of Moses. They were the ones who stepped in to relieve their elders from the whips of overseers, who hid their babies from the spears of soldiers. They were the ones who groaned through the day and were too tired to dream in the night.
The sandwich generation: the ones who live, pinched, between others’ dreams and others’ needs. The ones whose work is survival in the meantime—a heart-wrenching task, an exhausting and unglamorous state where mercies are few and far between.
But the work of survival is a pursuit no less holy than the pursuit of a dream, even if it lacks the glamour of stars and burning bushes. It is the work of being rooted to a wellspring that drought cannot drain. It is the work of holding faith over cynicism, joy over withdrawal, compassion over fear.
It is hard work, but it is not without good news.
For the ease of the weary. For the strength of the surviving. For the reprieve of the sandwiched. We pray to the One who listens.